Over 135,000 visitors so far!

On The Road Again: First Women UK Exhibition Showcases in County Durham

Image: Lee Dobson

We have reached our eighth venue of the First Women tour – the iconic Bishop Auckland Town Hall in County Durham.

It’s the first time we have exhibited the First Women portraits in a town hall gallery and we had an impressive 800 visitors in our first five days! It was also a bonus that our opening timed beautifully with this year’s International Women’s Day, making for a double celebration.

Built in 1862, Bishop Auckland’s European-style town hall stands proudly at the heart of the market square. Following an extensive refurbishment it recently re-opened as a very popular local hub and – very importantly – boasts a large and welcoming cafe!

Image: Anita Corbin

The exhibition preview night was abuzz with scores of guests, including Amanda Hopgood, the leader of Durham County Council and also the first woman to lead this council which is one of the ten biggest In the UK.

We also had a visit from the deputy Lord Lieutenant of Durham, Dame Dela Smith who honoured the exhibition in her speech; saying that the First Women Portraits was a show of  exactly the sort of calibre that would show how serious they were in their bid for 2025’s City of Culture.

Creatively prompted by the First Women UK show, curator Debbie Connell  and local photographer Lee Dobson created a response exhibition called ‘Woodhouse Women’ celebrating inspiring local women.

Image: Lee Dobson


We also had the pleasure of hosting two, in-person Firsts: namely, Dr Jane Atkinson CBE, the first woman in the world to manage a blast furnace (and local to County Durham) and snooker referee, Michaela Tabb, the first woman to officiate at a world snooker championship.
Huge thanks to them both – especially Michaela who  traveled down from Scotland for the event!

We are delighted to say that exhibition is thriving after it’s in-storage hibernation and welcoming visitors six days a week from 10am-4pm until April 24th. The portraits are looking fab and fresh – even after exposure to over 140,000 visitors in the last four years. Come and see for yourself!

Image:Anita Corbin

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